By Jennie Goloboy
Specifically how to know when you’ve found a good critique group.
What does one need most of all as a writer? First and foremost, friends who will tell the truth. (“No really, I was yawning because it was so good!”) If a writing group exists so that its members can tell each other they’re all geniuses, it’s not the best use of time. If one criticizes writing partners, there’s a good chance someone will spend the rest of the session defending his/her work. The primary goal of a writing group is share one’s material, to thank others for their perspectives, to ask for more help, and to be able to explain the purpose and goals of one’s book. It should never be an experience where is one is in defensive mode.
I had the honor of visiting the DFW Writers’ Workshop last spring, and have been wishing I could attend regularly ever since. Dozens of writers show up at every meeting, where the master of ceremonies divides the members into small groups. These groups are vary every time, so people don’t feel like they have to go easy on their friends. Within through groups, each writer reads his/her work aloud for five minutes, and the rest of the group critiques it. The end result is some of the best elevator pitches I’ve heard to date.
But what if you don’t live in Dallas/Fort Worth? If you write science fiction and fantasy, check out the Online Writing Workshop. Or maybe start your own group. The possibilities are endless.